Top US companies are missing out on a large portion of the potential Twitter holds for their businesses, according to two separate studies from PR firm Weber Shandwick and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Both studies indicate that while Corporate America is familiar with Twitter, it is not taking advantage of the full range of Twitter’s business capabilities.
A “Twittervention” May Be in Order
The Twitter online social network has an estimated 20 million US? users and 50 million users worldwide. Yet according to a Weber Shandwick research paper entitled Do Fortune 100 Companies Need a Twittervention (pdf), while 73% of Fortune 100 companies registered a total of 540 Twitter accounts, 76% of those accounts do not post tweets often, and 52% are not considered actively engaged as measured by engagement metrics such as numbers of links, hashtags, references and retweets.
Moreover, 50% of Fortune 100 accounts had fewer than 500 followers, 15% were inactive or used as placeholders to protect against the “brand-jacking” (or unauthorized use) of a company name, and 4% were abandoned after a specific event. Some 41 accounts not included in the study group of 540 accounts appeared to be brand-jacked accounts using a brand name without authorization.
Steps to a Twittervention
For companies not maximizing the potential of their Twitter accounts, Weber Shandwick recommends a four-step plan of action:
- Create a companywide engagement strategy and a set of guidelines with best practices.
- Demonstrate a consistent and comprehensive brand presence.
- Build a dialogue that paves the way to new relationships with customers and advocates.
- Generate loyalty among new and existing communities.
To maximize the benefits of Twitter, Weber Shandwick says companies should offer opinions and encourage discussions, reach out to their communities of customers and advocates, build relationships with new customers and look for untapped supporters.
Inc. 500 Shows Lower Twitter Usage, Higher Engagement
A study by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Social Media in the 2009 Inc. 500: New Tools & New Trends, obtained slightly different results from the top 500 companies as ranked by Inc. Magazine. The study shows lower usage of Twitter by top US companies but a higher level of engagement among users.
According to the study, 52% of Inc. 500 companies have a Twitter account, and 62% of Inc. 100 companies consider themselves “very familiar” with Twitter.
While this is a lower Twitter usage level than that tracked by Weber Shandwick, it is interesting to note that 82% of Inc. 500 Twitter users reported success, mostly measured by hits, comments, leads or sales as primary indicators. This suggests Inc. 500 companies have a higher level of engagement than Fortune 100 companies, with more than half of Fortune 100 Twitter users not actively using their Twitter accounts.
In addition, 27% of Inc. 500 companies not currently using Twitter as a business tool plan to do so. In terms of their view on the general business value of social networking, 79% of Inc. 500 companies consider social networking to be somewhat or very important.
About the surveys:? “Do Fortune 100 Companies Need a Twittervention” was conducted by Weber Shandwick between August 28 – September 4, 2009.The analysis identified which companies used Twitter according to best practices and how well they engaged with Twitter users. “Social Media in the 2009 Inc. 500: New Tools & New Trends” is the result of a nationwide telephone survey of those companies named by Inc. Magazine to the Inc. 500 list under the direction of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth researchers. All interviews for the UMass study took place in October and November 2009. Some 30% (148) of the Inc. 500 participated.